Guwahati, July 31: Officials of Manas National Park have warned that if settlers are not evicted from the park’s ranges soon, the situation may soon spin out of control.
Last month, India had successfully stalled a Unesco mission to Manas saying fresh encroachments at the Bhuyanpara range were temporary.
During the meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Doha, Qatar, India had sought more time to improve the situation. The committee, after getting the backing of some of its members, had agreed.
The committee had expressed concern over the reported deterioration of the security situation in the park. It considered that a further deterioration of the security situation, associated with the reported surge in poaching and concerns regarding encroachment, could create conditions to re-inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
However, a source said eviction notices should be issued by the authorities to the encroachers or else it would be difficult to dislodge them.
Already, the Panbari range of the park is in the grip of encroachers and people are not ready to move out despite being given financial incentives by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
On new encroachments reported in Bhuyanpara range, Manas, the Centre said these encroachments are not permanent settlements, which can have serious consequences to the outstanding universal value, rather these encroachments are essentially seasonal cultivation of agricultural crops for human subsistence and have been a characteristic feature of this site and have had no significant adverse impacts on the outstanding universal value of the site.
“It would not take much time for these to become permanent encroachments. We will have to talk to the people out there and solve the situation. We are looking at an eviction notice but such decisions cannot be taken in haste,” an official at the park said.
“The subject requires urgent attention and continuous effort for a long term will ensure the encroachment is arrested and the area of tall terai grassland is recovered. Otherwise, there is no stopping to this in the near future,” the source said.
Another source said the authorities should chalk out a 5-year plan to remove settlers.
“Though there has been no rhino poaching at the site this year, there is no guarantee that it would not happen. If we do not buck up now, the danger tag may soon be a reality,” the source said.